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Posts Tagged ‘euphorbia’

Today’s guest picture is another from Venetia’s trip to France.  She met this emerging monster in the Japanese garden of Toulouse.

japanese garden Toulouse

Our spell of good weather continues.  We find it a bit unnerving but it is very welcome.

I couldn’t make the best of a fine morning though as I was in duty on the Welcome to Langholm Office.  I did a little welcoming and a lot of entering data into the Archive Group newspaper index so it wasn’t time wasted but I did look longingly out of the window from time to time.

When I got home, I mowed the middle lawn and found surprisingly little growth considering the weather.  Perhaps the soil has not warmed up yet after several long cold months.

The rhododendron is enjoying the weather.

rhododendron

And a present of cow parsley, which we got from a friend who was a wild gardener, is doing well too.

jenny's cow parsley

I had an early lunch and got my new bike out and set out to do a few miles to see if everything was still going well.

It was.  It was a treat to ride.

On the down side, the hills seemed to be still there and although the bike is new, the engine has seen a lot of wear and is definitely past its best.

It was a fine cycling day with just enough breeze to keep me cool but not enough to discourage me.  The new bike doesn’t encourage constant stopping for pictures but the need for an occasional breather meant that I took a few on my way round.

hottsbrig bluebells 2

A delightful small mound sprinkled with  bluebells near Hottsbrig school

gair view

The view from the Gair road, looking back to the way that I had come

dandelion clock

The dandelions are going over

Gair road

The neatly clipped beech hedges are turning green again

Irvine House

Irvine house is disappearing behind the leaves

old A7

A welcome bit of shade ahead on the old A7

I did an undemanding circle of 31 miles at a modest speed of thirteen and a half miles per hour and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Mike Tinker had promised to come round to inspect the new bike and I found him chatting to Mrs Tootlepedal in the garden when I got home. To show what sort of a day it was, rather than sitting on the new bench in the sun, they were sitting on the old bench in the shade.  And very sensible too as it was quite hot by this time.

As well as inspecting the bike, Mike and I went to look at Kenny’s euphorbia beside the dam at the back of the house.  It is impressive.

euphorbia

Before I went in for my shower, I checked on the tulips.  A little late afternoon sun brings out the best in them.

tulips

orange tulip

And Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out the first of the ornamental strawberry flowers of the year.

strawberry flower

The azalea was ablaze.

azalea

It was a genuine Tootlepedal day because after my cycle ride, my flute pupil Luke came and we had a very encouraging play and then after tea, (another) Mike and Isabel came round and we played some enjoyable trios.

The word from the weather forecasters is that our good weather should continue for several days.  We are considering renaming Wauchope Cottage as Shangri-La.

On account of the warm afternoon weather, the flying bird of the day was having a little sit down when I took her picture.

sparrow

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture shows a rather more ornate bench than our new one.  Venetia sent the picture to me but couldn’t say what it was like to sit on the bench as it is too tall for her to get up  on to.  A triumph of art over practicality.

venetia's seat

The short spell of good weather continued today and it was a pleasure to go out into the garden after breakfast and be greeted by genuinely warm air.

I took the picture of the daffodil of the day at quarter to nine in the morning when we were sitting on the new bench enjoying the sunshine.

double daffodil

The morning sun brought out the best in a bunch of yellow tulips too.

yellow tulips

We didn’t have as long as we would have liked to enjoy the glorious weather as it was soon time to go to sing in the church choir.  Probably because it is a holiday weekend, the choir was rather short handed so we all felt a bit exposed but we had a good sing.

We had a little time to work or wander  in the garden when we got back.  I turned my attention away from the large and showy to the tiny…

small garden flowers

…and then spent some time stalking a peacock butterfly round the garden until it was polite enough to stop for a moment (though it didn’t fully stretch out its wings).

peacock butterfly

Then  we had a cup of coffee and went on a short walk to see if the good weather had brought the bluebells on.

The walk was most enjoyable with a lot to see on the way.

I stopped to check if the lichen on the park wall was enjoying the heat.

It was…..

red lichen

…but just behind the lichen was something that I found even more interesting.

What I took to be moss was sprouting in a way that I have never noticed before.

moss

I did some research on the internet and couldn’t find anything like it so I may be mistaken in thinking that it was moss but it certainly looked like it.

Mrs Tootlepedal was very struck by the huge bracket fungus on an old tree stump nearby….

bracket fungus

…but my eye was taken by a tiny oxalis growing on a damp wall as we climbed up the slope to the Stubholm.

oxalis

It was a beautiful day for a walk.

stubholm tree

Most of the wild garlic was still waiting to come out in spite of the warmer weather but one or two plants were giving a taste of things to come.

wild garlic

Did I mention that it was a beautiful day for a walk?

Easton's walk

Mr Grumpy was out enjoying himself too.

heron

And the view down the river from below the church was spring at its springiest.

River Esk

The only black mark was the fact that the bluebells were not much farther on than they had been when I last walked by a few days ago.  I shall have to be patient.

We had time to visit the garden again before lunch.  The euphorbia continues to attract flies.

fly on euphorbia

I think that this is a hoverfly.  It seemed too small to be a bee.

…and the tulips continued to attract me.  This one is my current favourite.

orange tulip

 

…as it glows more than the others.

tulip centres

After lunch, we headed off to Carlisle for a little shopping and a lot of singing with our Carlisle choir.  It did cross our mind that it was far too nice a day to spend more of it inside but we have a concert coming up soon so we didn’t like to miss a practice.

It was still warm enough to sit outside in the garden when we got home and we were serenaded by two competing blackbirds who were singing fit to bust from a nearby roof  and holly tree.

blackbirds

The very last daffodil has come into flower….

daffodil

…and soon the age of the daffodil will be past.

I mowed the middle lawn and then we went in for a delicious lamb stew prepared by Mrs Tootlepedal in the slow cooker.

I didn’t get any chance today to linger indoors and look out of the kitchen window so the flying bird of the day is a frog which turned up in the pond among all the tadpoles.

frog in pond

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Today’s colourful guest picture comes from my sister Mary who recently visited the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park, London.

isabella plantation

Apart from a couple of brief showers, we had a much better day today.  It wasn’t a lot warmer in theory but a very welcome break from the recent strong winds made it feel a lot warmer in practice.

Mrs Tootlepedal had a busy morning of coffee and lunch meetings but managed to get some gardening in before she went out.  Meanwhile, I got the slow bike out and did some slow bicycling down to Canonbie and back.

Before I went, we checked the pond to see if Mrs Tootlepedal’s improvements were still keeping the water in place.

full pond

They were.

And I saw a couple more signs of spring.

willow and plum

Willow and plum

Once on the slow bicycle, it was a great relief not to have to battle against the wind for once and I enjoyed myself, although I didn’t try for any speed records.

There is enough grass growing for the farmers to be thinking about silage and I liked the rolled pattern on this field near Canonbie.

field near Canonbie

The dandelions in the verges are showing promise and I hope to be able to show some good clumps soon…

dandelion and bluebell

…and I saw my first bluebells of the year so I hope to see them in quantity soon too.

I stopped on the bridge at Canonbie to see how the ash tree flowers were coming on.

ash tree flowers

I think the branch that I looked at can truly be called an explosion of new growth.

I didn’t have to kid myself to see green leaves on the trees along the Esk at the Hollows today.  Spring is definitely springing…

Esk at Hollows

…although it has a bit to go before it is fully sprung.

When I got home, I found that the tulips were appreciating the better weather.

tulips

The euphorbias seem very popular with flies of various sorts as there is often one about when I try to take a picture of the plants.

fly on euphorbia

This is what the plant looks like when the flies have flown.

euphorbia

I went in to have lunch, soup and one of Matilda’s rolls, and took some time to watch the birds.

The siskins had gone away again so the chaffinches were getting a look at the feeder today.

chaffinches

…but there was still some waiting around on the plum tree to be done.

chaffinch and plum blossom

A goldfinch approached the feeder in the manner of one showing that he wasn’t armed and dangerous.

flying goldfinch

After lunch, Mrs Tootlepedal returned and found that our bench builder had arrived to cut an inch or two off the legs of the new bench.  It needed to be shifted back a bit and Mrs Tootlepedal set to work on that.  The result was very satisfactory and when she had finished,  we invited our neighbour Liz (with friend) to come and try it out

Ally and Liz on bench

By this time, as you can see, it was perfect weather for bench testing.

While Mrs Tootlepedal was gardening and working at the bench area, I mowed the front lawn and walked around with my camera.  I had the macro lens on.

white flowers

Tulips are popping up everywhere…

tulip

…and I spotted another colourful corner.

colourful corner

The plants in the foreground are dicentra and they were attracting bumbles bees again.

bee on dicentra

As were the paler variety in the back border.

bee on dicentra

Liz came in for a cup of tea and then, while Mrs Tootlepedal did some more gardening, I stayed inside to get some computer business out of the way.

I took the opportunity to look at last year’s cycling stats and found that I had done 500 miles more by this time last year so it is not surprising, considering the lack of decent cycling weather,  that our spring is quite a bit  later than usual this year.

I hope we get a good summer to make up for it.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had an enjoyable music making session while the other two chatted away.  After playing, Alison and I joined the conversation and Mike, who is a retired doctor, made us all rather gloomy with a very downbeat assessment of the shortage of general practice doctors and hospital consultants in our area.  We will have to try our best to keep ourselves healthy.

The flying bird of the day is a female chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

 

 

 

 

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Today’s guest picture was sent by Gavin, who was on holiday in the north when he took it.  It shows part of the Ring of Brodgar, a Neolithic henge and stone circle about 6 miles north-east of Stromness on the Mainland, the largest island in Orkney.

The Ring of Brodgar is a Neolithic henge and stone circle about 6 miles north-east of Stromness on the Mainland, the largest island in Orkney, Scotland.

Our spell of dry and windy weather continued today and is now stretching out into something slightly freakish for such a normally wet corner of Britain.  The brisk north easterly winds are keeping the rain away but are also keeping the temperatures lower than you would expect for such sunny days.

The winds are battering the tulips and they are showing quite a bit of wear and tear.

white tulips

Welsh poppies are popping up all over the garden in sheltered spots.

Welsh poppy

I was intending to go out for a rather longer cycle ride today but once I got going, the wind blew my determination away and I settled for a stately ride down to Canonbie and back.

I had another look at the spruce flowers on my way.  It was hard to miss them as the whole tree is absolutely covered with them.

spruce

I was not the only one who thought that this might be a good day to sit down rather than rush about.

sheep and lambs

Everyone was at it.

bulls

All the same, I pedalled on as best I could until the heavy crosswinds knocked the stuffing out of me and then I pedalled on as slowly as I could, consistent with getting home in time for lunch.

I stopped to look at my three favourite trees…

canonbie trees

…and a burst of blue flowers in the verge a little further on which weren’t there the last time I pedalled past.

blue wild flowers

I took quite a few more pictures of the wild flowers in the verges as I went past but the stiff wind meant that when I checked them on my computer at home, it turned out that they were too blurred to use.  I had thought that this might be the case so I took a picture of a more stable scene near the end of my ride.

Spring at Skippers

When I got home, I checked out the busy bees on the apple blossom.

bees on apple

There were an encouraging number of insects on the apples today.

Matilda has been kind enough to invite us to join her on a week’s holiday and we are going away tomorrow.  The forecast is offering no sign of rain for the week while we are away so we thought it would be sensible to water the soft fruits before we went, just in case they got thirsty.

When we had finished, I had a look at the new euphorbia which Mrs Tootlepedal bought at Alnwick.  It has settled in well.

euphorbia

I will try to take a better picture on a less windy day when we get back.

A little ornamental strawberry, hidden among other plants was blushing unseen until I poked about a bit.

ornamental strawberry

Although many tulips have been dead headed and are now composting quietly in the new bin, some are just coming out.

ornamental strawberry

I am hoping that these will last until we get back

When I checked my bike computer to see how I had done on my morning ride, I discovered that it had eaten the statistics and wouldn’t regurgitate them for my spreadsheet.  This was a bit alarming so I put the computer on my slow bike and went out for a short run to see if it was still working.

I combined the test with a visit to the nuthatch tree and was able to catch a glimpse of one of the pair emerging from the nest…

nuthatch

It didn’t hang about and I waited for several minutes to see if it would return.  I was just checking my phone to see how long I had waited, when I saw it return to the nest out of the corner of my eye. and I missed the picture opportunity.  I shall come back in a week to see if they are still there.

I went over to the Lodge Walks on my way back….

Lodge walks

…and was pleased to find them greening up nicely.

I tested the bike computer when I got home and it behaved perfectly, giving up its secrets without complaint.  It must have been just one of those inexplicable blips which seem to affect all digital devices from time to time.

I had a moment to watch a redpoll on the feeder.

redpoll

But I couldn’t spend too long watching nuthatches or redpolls as I had an appointment at the Health Centre for my annual asthma review (still living and breathing, as it turned out) but it is no hardship at all to have to walk across the Suspension Bridge on a day like today.

River Esk

In the evening, Mike and Alison came as usual on a Friday and Alison and I battled away at some of our pieces, neither of us having done quite as much practice as maybe we should have done.  Still, music is music and gives great pleasure even when it is not played absolutely perfectly.

The flying bird(s) of the day are an oyster catcher and a crow which passed over the garden in the early evening making a great commotion.  It was hard to see who was chasing whom but we thought that the oyster catcher was mobbing the crow.

oyster catcher and crow

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Today’s guest picture comes from my son Tony.  While I was playing recorders in Denholm last Saturday, he was watching a cycle event passing by further up the borders.

cycle sportive

It was another dry day today, although it seems to have rained later on when we were in Edinburgh.

After breakfast, I went for a look at the new anemone to see how it was doing.

anemone

I think it is probably the prettiest flower that we have in the garden all year.  The colours are so rich that it is hard to beat.

While I was out, I saw that I am not the only one interested in euphorbias.

fly on euphorbia

Every flower had a friend….

fly on euphorbia

I have said it before and I will say it again, they are the most extraordinary plants, obviously designed by a committee which wanted to get everything in.

It felt quite warm and the wind seemed light in the garden so I set out for a short cycle ride in good spirits.  The warmth was real but the calmness was an illusion and as soon as I got out of the shelter of the town, i found myself battling into a brisk wind as I pedalled the ten miles or so out to Paddockhole.

On the this occasion the wind didn’t play any silly tricks so at least I was given a good helping hand on the return journey.   My daughter Annie has sent me some Colombian guava energy bars and I gave one a try today.  It was very tasty but my legs didn’t seem particularly grateful.  The wind might have had something to do with that so I will give them another try,  They taste better than standard energy gels so that is in their favour.

When I got back, Mrs Tootlepedal was working in the garden and I had a look round too.

bergenia

The bergenia is flourishing

spirea

As are the spireas

A blackbird sat on the silver pear and sang a challenge to all comers….

blackbird

The jackdaws made a mess of my lawn again yesterday, almost as soon as I had finished mowing it…

jackdaws lawn pecking

They are not taking the moss away as I cleared a bucket of pecked moss off

…so it was looking a bit part worn today.  They may save me the trouble of scarifying it if they go on like this.

I didn’t have a lot of time to look at birds but I took a shot or two after I had had my shower….

blackbird

A blackbird checks to see who else is around as it lands on the feeder

redpoll

Once again there was no shortage of redpolls

…and then it was time to head to Lockerbie to catch the train to Edinburgh to visit Matilda and her parents.

The train trip was very pleasant in the sunshine and we were much struck by the brilliance of this field of rape near Edinburgh.

rape near Edinburgh

Matilda and her parents were in good form and we spent some happy hours playing games, only interrupted by a trip to the shops.

I was just taking a sober picture of Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda going down the steps from the house….

Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda

…when there was a regrettable outbreak of media awareness.

Mrs Tootlepedal and Matilda

They were joined by Matilda’s mum, Clare and walked along to the shops to cries of…

Clare, Mrs T and Matilda

…one, two three, wheeeee!

Clare, Mrs T and Matilda

It was a very cheery outing.

The train journey home was uneventful and we were surprised to see that it had obviously rained at Lockerbie although we had had a clear, fine afternoon and evening in Edinburgh.

I managed to catch a flying chaffinch at lunchtime.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture comes from my brother Andrew, who was at the sea side in Morecambe yesterday.  He was lucky enough to find the sea at home.

MorecambeThe forecasters promised us a coolish day with light winds and no rain and they got it exactly right.  There was a light frost when we woke up which caused the tulips to hang their heads in distress but didn’t appear to actually finish any plants off completely.

The chill meant that I was in no hurry to get out on my bicycle and in the end, I waited until eleven o’clock before the temperature crept up to 7.5°C and then I went out.

The sun was out and it shone on the siskins…

siskin

One wisely leaving before being awarded the order of the boot from another

…who were in a rather factious mood…

siskins

More evasive action

…but for all its cheerful brightness, it wasn’t doing much to heat the day up.

For a change, I decided to leave the town following the road up the Esk  rather than my usual route up the Wauchope.  This does involve a couple of quite sharp but short climbs as soon as you leave the town and as I am not supposed to cycle up too many steep hills with my new tin knee, I use this route sparingly.

I took it very gently though and arrived at Eskdalemuir in good order.

Bridge over the Esk

The bridge over the Esk there is guarded by many power lines and poles

I could hardly hear myself think because of the insistent baa-ing of sheep and lambs in the field beside the river.

Eskdalemuir lambs

The thrifty people who built the church at Eskdalemuir in the early nineteenth century didn’t waste any money on frivolous ornamentation.

Eskdalemuir church

I was in expansive mood though and popped into the cafe at the Eskdalemuir Hub in the old school for a cup of coffee and a slice of lemon drizzle cake.  This gave me enough strength to head out over the hills to Lockerbie.  The route elevation….

garmin route 18 April 2017 elevation

…shows that the first part of my journey was quite hilly and annoyingly having climbed up a long hill to get to 900 feet before Eskdalemuir, it immediately drops sharply before leaving me with another climb of 400 feet or more to get back to 950 feet, the highest point of the trip.  These are not like Tour de France climbs but then I am not like a Tour de France climber and they were quite steep enough for me.

Once over the undulating plateau between Eskdalemuir and Boreland, there is some welcome down hill and the rest of the journey bobbed up and down over very gentle country.

Not all of our handsome stone bridges have survived modern traffic and this one over the Dryfe Water…

Dryfe Water bridge

…was so battered by a passing lorry that they gave up and put in a metal trough.

Once I was through Lockerbie, I was on the old main road south, now bypassed by a new motorway.  This is quite a dull road but it was brightened up a lot in places by a fringe of dandelions.

dandelions verge

It has a useful cycle lane on each side of the road.

I stopped to eat an egg roll near Eaglesfield and was reminded that this has been a busy place for many years.  In the foreground is a bridge over the Carlisle to Glasgow motorway and the flat topped hill in the background….

motorway and roman camp

…..was home not just to  a Roman camp but an Iron Age fort as well.

I didn’t stop for many pictures as the day had become quite dull and I needed to keep my mind on my cycling rather than looking for wild flowers in the verge.

In the end, I needed to go through the town for a mile and then back again to ring up exactly 60 miles on the computer as I swung into our drive.

I had enough energy left to walk round the garden and check that the frost hadn’t done too much damage.

hellebore, dicentra and dogwood

It hadn’t.

tulip, lamium and wallflower

One of the Euphorbias deserved a picture all to itself I thought.

euphorbia

There is no frost in the forecast for the next few days so perhaps we have escaped very lightly.

I filled up the feeders and in no time the siskins were back, taking every perch at both of  the feeders but behaving very sedately this time.

siskins

It was the goldfinches that had taken on the role of hooligans…

goldfinch kicking siskin

…though the siskins were not going quietly into the night.

goldfinch facing up to siskin

I was pleased to see a couple of redpolls keeping calm amongst the mayhem.

redpolls

I had time for a shower and then we welcomed my younger brother and oldest sister to the house.  They are spending a few days in the Lake District and came up to have a meal with us in the Douglas Hotel.  The meal and the conversation were both very good value and the evening was a great delight.

We arranged to see them again in the south in July and September.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch.

goldfinch

Those interested can find details of my cycle ride by clicking on the map below.

garmin route 18 April 2017

It was a pity that the sun didn’t last for very long.

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Today’s guest picture comes from Venetia.  She was walking at Burrington Combe in North Somerset, when she saw this sight on the far side of the road.  It is the very crag which inspired the writer of the 1763 hymn starting: ‘Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself  in Thee’

Rock of Ages

We had another dry and mostly cloudy day today.  The dry weather was very welcome but once again the chilly and brisk wind took away some of the pleasure of being out in the garden.

After a cup of coffee and some excellent scones with Dropscone, I spent a lot of time in the garden so felt the wind quite keenly.

I was finishing tidying up after the installation of the compost bins.  I sorted the old wood into ‘(possibly) usable’ and ‘totally rotten’ piles and then with Mrs Tootlepedal’s help, I used some of the wood to improve the partition between Bins C and D.  It all looks very good now but I haven’t put in a photo of the finished set up because I have elderly readers and don’t want to over excite them two days running.  This is a responsible and caring blog.

In between the compost work, I mowed the two lawns and looked at the moss, which always seems more conspicuous after a cut, in a slightly depressed way.  I am waiting for some warmer weather to encourage grass growth before getting the scarifier out.

Mrs Tootlepedal has transplanted some hellbores and a fritillary as she thought that they were blooming rather unseen where they were and she has put them beside the other hellebore near the feeders….

hellebores

…where they will make up a new ‘spring corner’ if they survive the transplanting.

I couldn’t resist another look at the amazing euphorbia…

euphorbia

…although the brisk wind made taking flower pictures tricky.

We are getting quite excited by the prospect of azaleas….

azalea buds

…and Mrs Tootlepedal is impressed by her rosemary beside the greenhouse.

rosemary

I find it a very difficult plant to photograph well as my camera sees the leaves much more clearly than the elegant flowers.  I will try again with the macro lens on a sunnier day.

I thought that I had found a nascent tulip afflicted by a dread disease….

fancy tulip

…but Mrs Tootlepedal tells me that it is a fancy variety and is supposed to be like that.  I look forward to seeing it when it is fully out.

The aubretias overhanging the side of the dam are thriving.

aubretias

In spite of having had quite an energetic time in the garden, I had enough oomph left to go for a short cycle ride late in the afternoon.  It was still very windy so I settled for a valley-bottom-hugging ride up and down the road beside the Wauchope Water to Cleuchfoot and back a couple of times with a bit added on to make up twenty miles.

I was rewarded for my get up and go spirit when the sun came out just as I started cycling

I saw a towering gorse bush…

aubretias

…and some very young lambs in a field.

cleuchfoot lambs

I went along the banks of the Esk in the town on one of the laps, hoping to see some interesting birds but had to settle for a small meadow on the bank beside the suspension bridge…

cleuchfoot lambs

The flowers that look quite white in the sunshine are in fact a very pretty purple when seen from closer in.

wild flower

Whenever I had a chance through the day, I looked out of the kitchen window.  It was not hard to spot birds lining up to try the new feeders.

goldfinch

siskin and chaffinch

Some customers got impatient though…

chaffinches

…which led to some unedifying moments. ..

chaffinch, goldfinch and siskins

…while off feeder, discussions on the value of a second Scottish Independence Referendum became heated…

chaffinches squabble

A goldfinch wished that all this bad behaviour would cease immediately.

goldfinch

All this bird action is very entertaining to watch but it leads to mess under the feeders and Mrs Tootlepedal is justifiably starting to complain about the smell.  My sense of smell is so poor that I don’t notice anything myself but I will have to put my mind to clearing up and disinfecting the affected area.

In the evening, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to see some high class ballet being streamed to the screen in the Buccleuch Centre and but as I find ballet very impressive to watch from a technical and athletic point of view but painfully slow and repetitive from the point of view of advancing a plot or telling a story, I left her to go alone and did some catching up on blog reading.

There are two flying birds of the day,  a goldfinch absolutely delighted by the prospect of one of the new feeders….

goldfinch

…and a siskin.  Not a good picture but siskins don’t hover so getting a picture at all on a dull day is a bonus.

siskin

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